Kitchens are designed with purpose, here’s how not to defeat them
It doesn’t matter what style your kitchen is. It could be the ‘L’ shape, the ‘U’, the ‘Galley’… ultimately they are all designed to serve the same purpose. To accommodate regular family activity such as cooking, eating, and socializing, you need to properly exploit the layout to maximize efficiency. It needs to be clear and clutter free in order to be functional, and well-organized to be productive. You have the power to ensure that all routines run smoothly in your kitchen. And you can begin by recognizing what not to do…
Do not obstruct the kitchen triangle, the area comprised of the sink, stove and refrigerator. The sink is the busiest spot of the three and it needs easy access to the stove and refrigerator (and the countertops). The sum of the side of the triangle should be no shorter than ten feet or longer than twenty five feet. When the area is too small, chaos ensues. The presence of any more than a single person will cause crowding. However if the area is too large, you’ll tire yourself working the vast diameter that, by design, you shouldn’t have to move that much within.
Do not let your storage space go to waste. Sure you’ve got a haphazard mix of stuff hidden behind your cabinet doors, and you’re ok leaving it like that. But it’s simply not efficient, especially when you have trouble locating something you need. Avoid that frustration. The goal is optimal organization. Recognize the space that is wasted. Then, minimize the misuse with a bit of planning and ingenuity. If space is tight, install extra-long upper cabinets. Be sure to put a short cabinet above the refrigerator as well. Draw attention above the average line of sight with diversions such as lighting or greenery-lined molding to promote a feeling of greater space. Also, put shelves across the backs of the lower kitchen cabinets, and you will create a few square feet of additional storage.
Just as you should conserve storage space don’t fail to make the most of your counter tops either. All kitchen activities involve the countertop, it’s important to make efficient use of it. It’s where all of your appliances lie in wait, so clearing away as much space as possible may be a challenge. If it’s just not doable, add an island (size depending on how much room is to spare). If your kitchen is of ‘L’ shape design, just add a mobile breakfast bar to the mix, it will effectively free up much counter space.
A particular element that is often overlooked is the need for proper lighting. All too often people settle for a single light sourced from the center of the ceiling, and this serves only to defeat an assortment of purposes. Safety, design, and atmosphere are just a few examples of what benefits from good lighting. A brighter environment will showcase design elements, but more importantly, it’s less dangerous (especially when you’re handling knives). You shouldn’t take chances with poor lighting in the kitchen. Typically, three types are necessary – general (overall illumination), task and accent lighting. Each area that a majority of work occurs should have its own lighting source. Pendant lights will highlight the design of the room, and under cabinet lighting further insures that your food prep tasks are well-lit.
Be sure to recognize the necessity of a backsplash. Going without one always proves to be a mistake, eventually. It’s rarely seen as a priority during the initial planning of a home or kitchen remodel. Sometimes it’s not considered at all. The problem is, not having one will be costly in the long run. You’ve got an excess of steam, water and grease centralized in the kitchen sink area, and frankly, over time they will ruin the walls. But a backsplash that is made of tile, plastic or metal is designed to resist the elements and is easily cleaned.
It’s a wonder why folks sometimes ignore a kitchen’s poor ventilation capability. Noxious odors are a huge turn off. We’ve all been in homes where we inhale an aroma and nearly choke and ask, “What is that?!” Proper ventilation is the solution and in the kitchen it’s a range hood that takes the responsibility. A cheaper one will only circulate the air until it becomes stale. But a higher end one will improve the air quality and help keep the kitchen clean. Especially if the kitchen opens to another room, it is important to have a good ventilation system.
On a final note, please recognize that ignoring the responsibility of recycling is grossly careless. There is no excuse in this day and age to be a ‘Green” offender. You can’t just throw everything in a waste basket shoved beneath the sink. Be proud to do your part for the environment, manage your refuse correctly and implement the specific sorting bins for your recyclables. It’s all part of a modern and effective kitchen!